A debate that has stuffed echoes in hallways, podiums and failed bills in Washington, tiny-font-yet-endless columns in reports and op-eds in countless news publications, news reels with pundits and hacks on cable networks for decades — what must be done with the children brought by their parents from another country into the United States of America? The young generation that grew up as undocumented children now embarking on adulthood. Who daily at school would have pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, under the promise of indivisibility, liberty and justice for all. In the chaotic center of a decades old debate- many of us graduated from years of that schooling, a full public k-12 education- unbeknownst to us paved by Plyler v Doe a high court ruling from ‘82, granting immigrant children a public education. That very education to become a requirement for many of us to remain, only with the authority to work 2 years at a time. We had to understand why we had less rights than our best friends, peers, and seemingly everyone around us. Finally in the face of the real world, and not at a desk in a publicly paid for classroom- but after we were handed our diploma, we had to ask ourselves and realize what is a right? and what are my rights?
Our rights did not exist, it seemed- we didn’t even know it. Innocently answering to wanting this job or that car, where to travel abroad or which university to attend. With no social security number, no drivers license, no citizenship- of the only nation we’ve ever known.
The country whose piercing nationalism we were taught to the letter from our youngest years. Made morally convincing and heart captivating by the John Locke idea that was penned by Jefferson in our constitution that all men are created equal, and that here in the United States of America we do have certain unalienable rights- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unaware, in perhaps bliss, that before we had to face any of those elements of our society- that ‘We, The People’ really meant ‘They, The People.’
Most of us, teenagers and young adults- not fluent in the language of Washington. In the corridors of power in the District of Columbia- our fates were being shaped by a series of actions. A failed series of legislation that has seen light in both congressional chambers since 2001 had coined us as what we would be known as until today.
Those legislative failures brought President Obama to sign the executive action that lifted the despair of young Americans coming to the discovery that our path forward was not an easy one.
“Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is — the right thing to do.” - President Obama, June 15, 2012
‘…It’s not a permanent fix…’
Congress is the only body who can do that.
Just like a decade ago it was all eyes on Pelosi, all hopes on Reid, all our lives on 44, all our fates on Washington. Today it’s all eyes on Pelosi, all hopes on McConnell, all our lives on 45, all our fates on Washington.
Today, the Speaker brings legislation to vote under a senate and White House very different from the ones before. Now with a republican President hell bent on taking down the executive action- now only held up by a shred of court rulings in federal circuits, circuits that this senate is filling with appointments from this White House — even two seats on the highest court. Whether or not her morals and her comprehensive bar for legislation she brings to the house today are true- in passing ‘The DREAM and Promise Act of 2019’ to not reach across the aisle to win the righteous vote of the only other people in power who could actually improve our live from passing these bills with veto proof majorities — makes me, and many, wonder what kind of a successful speaker that is. Why must we be told to trust these people, who not only failed us years ago- but fail us today. Passing bills that look great on their voting record. Yet do nothing to our lives- stuck in an ever going limbo, other than perpetuate a bitter and familiar sense of questionable hope. What’s truly sad is that some of us have a scintilla of hope that maybe maybe maybe just maybe, this senate would bring such legislation to a vote.
It’s hard not to blame these people for their actions and their inaction. After all it was our parents who brought us here- but to blame them seems far worse in vain, we knew and we live the very intent of their risk to bring us here.
Many of our parents reaching closer and closer to retirement age — many who’ve worked here for decades providing us what their dreams for us were- an upbringing in the United States of America, will not be able to collect any social security they’ve paid into, making actually retiring not even an option. A growing and dark fear that no matter where our parents may be in their immigration process- that ICE raids risk our families staying together.
Us young minded people, forced into having to decipher political and legislative language in order to make sense of what we are to society and how we can do the most basic things in life including liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What we were taught was that these were unalienable. We see what is happening for what it is. We aren’t as young as we were 7 years ago. Nor is the state of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. No new applicants can apply to the DACA program since actions were taken by Trump’s administration to end the program. Many who have been able able to reapply, fear getting denied and shut out from any protection as some applicants have been and courageously share their stories online. Threats to end the program and the judicial rulings that allow for it to remain- have led it to the Supreme Court.
The few of us able to remain on the program- who have worked for nearly a decade, now fear it all being stripped away, for an inept congress to fix.
This dire reality isn’t one we cannot see- we live it, every day. The smiles to our coworkers will be the fondest memories of normalcy in a world where our already expensive and temporary work authorizations are to be executed in mass.
We see people who look just like us 20 years ago- being separated from their parents and locked in conditions that have haunted the border since the kerosene baths and fumigations. We plead and cried over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every social avenue possible- with advocacy, the closest thing we have to a vote- all for naught. Russia has more sway and influence over the social sector of our media lives seemingly beyond what any valid and righteous plight could evoke, not just happening in abstract border land America — but at your work, at the store around the corner, at the main street business, to your neighbor, to your teacher or your friend. The young people cast as dreamers to never be released from that very cast. It’s often passed along as if a powerful enough statistic, perhaps polished to sound convincing enough to sway the heart of someone holding doubt in the first place that we deserve citizenship — ‘A trillion dollars over ten year of duly paid taxes if every dreamer was granted citizenship today’ whether or not that may be true- we may have no better argument than the exercise of every right we never had, to make the most of our lives. Build a livelihood with prowess, build wealth we’ve always dreamed of, to pass on a paid-off home to citizen children of our own. We’ve been pressed into utter ambition- all awaiting for the very last straw to finally break the camels back.
Whoever our lives are in in the hands of next we all look to their every move and every word. From the 107th Congress to the 116th. To Obama. To Trump. To the courts.
Our futures seem to us, now, in the hands of the few attorneys making the case to the Supreme Court, who added Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to their docket for their next term, that we do deserve the simple rights provided by this program until an actually effective congress will act.
All the while the deportation of hundreds and thousands of immigrants are being deemed a proud power play and coiffed up as a raid for justice and an act to make things right, from a president echoing the darkest angels of human nature. Echoing China repatriating North Koreans in a view many will say is conflated but many of us can imagine it to be a close enough of an analogy to send a chill down our spines. These are families, they are hard working people that came here with children and had children here. Made illegal by rhetoric, just as human being as any person alive.
We were taught American government, we received the education these politician have shaped for us to have. We know the checks and balances and we know unchecked and unbalanced, unfortunately- we have no say in the democracy itself. We have no vote. It’s taxation without representation, as our founders once said.
Once again we will be pawned, faced with punditocracy, a blip within a sentence on a debate stage, and plastered over political ads and Facebook videos that may evoke heart-wrench to some, yet turn away the growing number of those exhausted by the issue- we brace ourselves, now that the highest court will be deciding on our immediate fate in the middle of a presidential election to bring on a rogue wave of the utter politicization of our lives.
We can’t control where any of this goes. We can only control as best we can, our own lives and our own story.